Monday, November 30, 2015

2016 - Resolutions or Goals?

December has not even started yet, but have you started thinking about your New Year's Resolutions? Are you even making resolutions anymore? What about goals? Have you thought about your goals for next year yet? What is the difference between a resolution and a goal?
  • A resolution is “the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc. (
  • A goal is “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.” (
If I am piecing it together correctly, one would make a resolution to achieve one’s goals.

With Hanukkah starting on December 6 running through to the 14th, then Christmas on December 25, the month is extremely busy for most people. Perhaps it is not too soon to be thinking about goals to be accomplished in 2016 and making a resolution on how to achieve them. By the time New Year’s Day comes around, a plan can be in place to start the year off right.

If one does not set goals, how does one know whether there are achievements or not? It is like taking a trip without knowing your destination. If one does have goals, but does not make a plan for achieving them, it is like driving from New York City to Los Angeles without knowing how to get there.

The time you spend answering these questions will help you to reach your goals.

  • Where would you like your life to be a year from now?
  • Why do you want to do this? Is it to improve yourself or your surroundings?
  • Who can help you to achieve the results you want?  
  • How will you accomplish this? Do you need to: buy a treadmill, register for a class, or contact a travel agent?
  • When will you take action?
  • What resolutions do you need to implement to reach your goals?
Take out your planner/calendar and make appointments with yourself over the next month to create your plan. Yes, I said “appointments,” plural. Use the brainstorming method I wrote about here as a tool to get started.

My resolutions

Now, I have only given this a little bit of thought myself, but I already have two goals to reach by the end of 2016 (where):

Read 52 books in 2016

I will read books I already own and some from the library, to reach this goal (how). I own way more than 52 books that I have not read. Secondarily, I will donate the finished books to the library for their semi-annual book sales (where, when).

This requires me to read (what) one book each week (when), which means giving up some television and a lot of video games (how). It probably means listening to more music, too, which is a positive move. (I have tinnitus, so this will block out the ringing in my head.)  I plan to do this because I like to read, it will decrease my TV watching, and it will clear out some of the clutter in my life (why).

Be able to walk a mile without stopping

My goal is to walk up Main Street in Lake Placid, New York (where) during the Christmas season to see all the window decorations (why). I will do this with my friends like we used to do as teenagers (why).

For most people, walking a mile (1609+ meters) is not a big accomplishment; for me, however, it will be huge, since even walking from room to room in my small apartment is hard. I resolve to start by walking 52 feet daily (how). If I add 52 more feet approximately every 8 days (what, when), I will get there. I will be starting physical therapy (who) on my knee and back at the end of this week, so I should be ready to get started on January 1st.


Friday, November 27, 2015

10 Reasons to Avoid Black Friday if You Have Chronic Pain

Black Friday shopping can be hard on any body, but it is particularly rough on someone with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain conditions. I have only done it once when my fibro was in its early stages, my weight was where it should be, and I was in good shape. It still wore me out. 

Here is a list of reasons to avoid Black Friday shopping:
  1. Stress exacerbates pain
  2. Cold weather exacerbates pain
  3. Standing in lines can cause fatigue, especially if this is not something you normally do or if you are in line for midnight store openings when you are normally sleeping
  4. Exhaustion decreases stamina, something needed for shopping expeditions
  5. Thinking about getting the good deals can lead to sleep problems, which causes fatigue and pain
  6. Thinking about getting the good deals can cause anxiety
  7. Brain fog increases when sleep is reduced or non-restorative
  8. The sights and sounds (not counting pushing and shoving) can cause sensory overload
  9. Negotiating crowded store aisles is particularly hard if you have to use a motorized cart like I do 
  10. Standing in long lines can be a problem if you suffer from irritable bladder and/or irritable bowel. Maybe they exist, but I have never seen a port-a-potty at waiting lines.

For sufferers of chronic pain, one must decide whether the consequences are worth the bargains. Personally, I recommend online shopping. Many stores are offering Black Friday deals online, as well as in the stores - "Bricks and Clicks." Some stores have items that are on sale only online. 

Whichever way you choose to do Christmas and/or Hanukkah shopping, I hope you...



Friday, November 20, 2015

Is This Pain Related to Fibromyalgia?

Almost five years ago, I stepped off the bottom step of an covered, exterior staircase at the apartment building I was living in then. It had rained, so I stepped onto water that was hiding ice. The front leg went out sideways to the right and the back leg went out sideways to the left, tearing the medial meniscus (see graphic below).

A trip to the emergency room led to an MRI, which an orthop├Ždic surgeon used to determine that I would probably need to have it surgically repaired, but started me out in physical therapy. A few months later, I was in more pain than when I started, so I quit PT.

When I returned to the state I live in now, I went to an orthop├Ždic surgeon in a renowned clinic. He said my MRI had been misread - the "bow-tie" shape  the first surgeon had used to say I had torn the ligament side-to-side was not the tear. In fact, that shape is the air pocket between the femur and lower leg! I almost had surgery on something that was not even the problem.

The second surgeon sent me to a new round of PT, telling me that the exercises the first doctor ordered caused more harm than good. A couple of months with the new exercises, and I had no pain for the first time in more than two years. 

If I had been wise, I would have continued the exercises I had been doing at home. 'Alas, I did not. When another medication caused a quick, large weight gain, my knee started hurting again. I feel I deserved that pain since I had quit exercising it.

However, new pain emerged leading me to go to my new primary care physician - everything around my knee hurts except for where I had injured it in the first place. I am now awaiting the results of the X-rays and begin new PT for my knee and spine (degenerative disc disease with osteoarthritis) after Thanksgiving. 

I am not sure if my knee hurts because of my back pain, or if the back pain is caused from the limping caused from the knee pain. And the pain is severe. If I had owned a saw, there were a couple of days where I would have gladly cut my leg off above the knee! (Of course, I would not have done so, but it felt that bad.)

Is this pain caused by fibromyalgia? No. Is it worse than it would be because of fibromyalgia? Maybe. Unfortunately, There is no way to know for sure. All I know is that getting up hurts, standing hurts, walking hurts, and it is hard to get to sleep due to the pain. 

It is what it is, but I really hope the PT takes the pain away again. I will not promise I will keep up the exercises forever, but I hope I will remember the pain not doing them causes and will do them forever.



Monday, November 16, 2015

Brainstorming Process

Months ago, I posted Time Management for Beginners. I was thinking it was time (no pun intended) to expand on that post. So, I employed a method I always use to decide what should be discussed. I used brainstorming.

Brainstorming is usually done in a group, but it can be done alone, too. I used the Ideation Station sheets from Levenger for this part of the process.


This is what mine looks like filled in.

What I realized with this brainstorming is that this series will end up in a Page heading labeled "Life Skills Coaching." It was my dream to be a teacher, which I was able to do briefly, but this is teaching in a different way. 

Using this form, I realized I had boiled it down to five categories: Time Management, Learning Styles, Project Management, Brainstorming, and Money. I used these categories to create storyboards with mind mapping, aka spider web brainstorming.

I used the Levenger Storyboard Circa Pages with each category on a separate sheet of paper.


Here is the front side of my brainstorming storyboard.

The Ideation Station is a form of Mind Mapping, as are the bottom two graphics in the storyboard above. Mind Mapping is also known as Spider Web Brainstorming. There are many different examples and templates at Google Images. The benefit of using the templates is visualizing links. 

Questions to ask:

  • Why are you brainstorming? 
  • Who is involved? Is it a troop, a group, a family, or an individual?
  • When will you do so?
  • Where will you do so?
  • What outcome are you looking for?
  • What supplies do you need for the brainstorming session? i.e. flip chart and markers 
  • Do not filter; it is a brain dump
  • Do not criticize or belittle others' ideas
  • Originator of idea can withdraw the idea on further reflection; the idea can be kept on the list if someone else wants it there
When the brainstorming is finished, similar ideas can be grouped. When a final list is generated, then a decision can be made.
  • Will ideas be voted on? Secret voting? Sticker voting? The method will depend on the group involved.
  • Can more than one idea be acted on?
  • Cost-benefit analysis: Does the project/trip/ etc. financial sense?
  • How will the outcome be implemented?

A Girl Scout troop is picking places to go on field trips or bigger trips using their cookie money for funding. 
  • Local amusement park
  • Children's museum
  • The moon
  • A weekend at a council campsite
  • Disney World
  • Lunch at a Japanese restaurant for Thinking Day
Which are feasible, and which are not?

  • Local amusement park
  • Children's museum
  • A weekend at a council campsite
  • Lunch at the Japanese restaurant
Not feasible:
  • The moon
  • Disney World
The not feasible trips would be crossed out, and the final decision will be made from what is left over.

I hope this coaching session helps you with decision making.



Saturday, November 14, 2015

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibro - fibrous tissues
Myo - muscle
Algos - pain
Fibromyalgia - pain in muscles and connective tissues

(My computer is giving me fits! I need to get it all straightened out. I will have to finish this another time - tomorrow, hopefully.) 

Thursday, November 12, 2015


You may notice that there are no advertisers on my blog. It is true that no one has contacted me to advertise here, but I have not sought out advertisers, either. 

I have noticed, on other blogs, advertisements that are animated, contain ads for items I have looked at in various online shopping venues, and ads that appear in the blog in such a way to interrupt the text. However, the ones I find most annoying are the ones that are at the bottom of pictures/videos, especially when they have motion, like cars running across the bottom. Trying to click on the close-out "x" sometimes opens the ad in a separate link. Aargh! 

So, what is a blogger to do? i do not want pop-ups that will annoy my readers or the exposed feeling of when the ad is targeted around other sites' cookies. Sometimes, I am looking at a website for someone else or just to fact-check information. These ads make me feel like "Big Brother is Watching You." (George Orwell, 1984)

My question to you, dear readers, is: What do you think of blog-vertising? Do you like it, or not? Do you even notice it, or is it just me? Please comment below. Your comments will help me to decide whether I will seek out advertisers. Thank you.



P.S. 1984 was written in 1944. I read it for English class in the mid-1970s. It was interesting then to see what had actually come to fruition since the book was written. It is even more interesting now, 40 years later, to see that more "predictions" have actually happened. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thank You to Those Who Serve(d)

These men were all veterans of international wars and members of the American Legion Post 326 in Lake Placid, NY. Kneeling in the front row from the left are Lionel Vincent, George "Ed" Vincent, Louis Vincent, and Henry Vincent. These four men are my father, his brothers, and his father, my grandfather.

Grandpa Vincent served in World War I, while my father and his brothers were in World War II. Daddy (Ed) was stationed in Anzio, Italy and made it to the front line on the day the truce was called. Their cousin, Bob, was raised by Grandma and Grandpa Vincent and is considered an uncle to us all. He is not in the photograph because he was serving in Korea at the time.

To me, this is a miracle. All these men served in war and came back alive, married, and had children. How many families sent all their sons and they all came home? I have cousins who were in Viet Nam and Iraq. They all came home, too. 

I am very grateful to all who serve, or have served, our country. Our family never had a Gold Star Mom or Dad or Wife. To those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, know your member have many people who are thankful for and to them.

Thank you, Corporal Ed Vincent, for your Army service. He came home and continued to serve until 1951. I cannot share any stories of my father's service; he met an untimely death in a car accident when he was 43 and I was barely 10-years-old. I never got the chance to ask him about the war he was in.

Daddy is the one in the middle

These are the only photos I have of his time in Italy. I could not figure out why he took a picture of these tents, but someone else pointed out to me that the tent on the left has a hole from some kind of ammunition. 

Thank you, again, you brave men and women. 


Friday, November 6, 2015

Fibro Friday and Fibro's Effect on Eyesight

Have you noticed the little black box in the left-hand column that says Fibro Blogger Directory? This blog is a great resource for links to blog posts about fibromyalgia. The blog hosts a link party every Friday where bloggers can post links to their fibro posts from the previous week, or so.

(On a side note, I asked several times at other blogs what a link, or linky, or linkie, party is. No one responded, so I had to figure it out for myself. Let me share the answer if you also do not know. Different websites host these parties once a week - days vary from site to site - where other bloggers can post the link(s) to their blog posts they think that particular audience would be interested in. Part of posting is to read at least a few of the other posters blogs and, perhaps, add a comment to acknowledge you have read said blog posts.)

Fibro Blogger Directory calls its link party "Fibro Friday." I think it is a catchy phrase, like "Throwback Thursday," so I will post my fibromyalgia, and other chronic conditions I am dealing with, posts on Fridays going forward.

The Effect of Fibromyalgia on Eyesight

My eyes
I did not realize, in the early years of my diagnosis, that fibromyalgia would have an effect on my eyesight. In the last few years, things have changed rapidly, too. 

I received my first eyeglasses on my 18th birthday. I only needed them for driving and going to the movies. Over the years to age 44, the prescription hardly changed at all. I had gotten separate prescription sunglasses, though, and these have darkened through the years. (FYI: those are dark circles from lack of sleep, not tinted lenses.)

At 44, the trombone arms did not slide out far enough, and I had to move into bifocals. I could not buy "cheaters," as I have astigmatisms. Still, though, I did not need glasses most of the time. 

At 47, I went to college. At age 49, I went into trifocals to save the damage I was doing to my lenses. I needed the distance for the board, and the bottom for reading, but I would take them off when working on my computer or talking to people; they often ended up on the floor, which caused the lenses to scratch. So, I went into trifocals so my glasses could stay on my face.

Each time I was getting my eyes tested during the last few years, my prescription would change, as would the need to use them. On cloudy days, I no longer needed to wear my glasses, but my depth perception has changed. 

I might be the one who does not pull into traffic as quickly as you would like, because I am not always clear as to how fast the gap is closing - better safe than sorry. Maybe other drivers do not notice, but I used to be able to make left-hand turns with ease. Previously praised for my parallel parking abilities, I find myself backing in, pulling forward, backing up, pulling forward several times to get the car into the proper parking position. I love it when I can pull directly into a spot.

I have gone back to bifocals, because I am not in a position where I need my glasses for most of the day. I do find, however, that the words on the television screen are blurry when I look up from my laptop. They are clear before I start working on the computer, so it is definitely the looking back and forth that is affecting them.

Last spring, when I had my eyes tested, I asked my optometrist why my eyes are changing so rapidly, and she said it is the fibro. On an unhappy note, I was diagnosed with the beginning of a cataract in my right eye at age 55; on a happy note, my vision will be better in that eye when the cataract gets removed.

So, if you have fibromyalgia and have seen (no pun intended) rapid changes with your eyesight, add this to the list of the many symptoms of the chronic illness we share. 



#FibroFriday #FibromyalgiaAwareness

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Planning the Week Step-by-Step

I use a Passion Planner, and I think it is one of the best planners I have ever used. Last week, I shared my new planner set-up that has been very successful for me. It was requested that I do a walk-through of my weekly set-up, so here it is. 

A clean week:

First: I cover the times with Washi tape purchased from The Reset Girl shop:

I had already added the "Water Plants" and "Refill Meds" months ago, so before I had changed my methodology.

Next, I add the new column headings using the stickers I have available here, plus others I have on hand. 

Then I use more stickers to fill in the columns. Honestly, I am not sure I really like all the activity stickers - I think it makes the page too busy for my ADHD and fibro. What do you think?

The McDonald's arch sticker is a reminder of my weekly coffee klatch. I have separate stickers for journaling and writing - journaling is personal, while writing is stories, poems, and the like. The little sticker in the far right column is preparing my planner for the coming week.

Once the stickers are on, I draw out check boxes to track my progress, plan my menu, and fill in information that I do not have a sticker for. If the item is once a week, I do not draw out checkboxes, but I do make an "x" beside it when it it is completed.

Yes, I forgot to fill in my menu before I snapped the photos. Meal Prep, for me, involves cooking rice, slicing/chopping vegetables for different recipes, and anything else that will make the actual cooking process easier. 

The stack of books is both a check-box item and a place where I write down the book I am currently reading - right now I am catching up on Real Simple magazine issues, so there is no book listed. 

The Blog column is where I jot down my ideas for the coming week's posts. I have a plan to write a planner-related one (this is it), an ADHD or fibromyalgia information post, and a project post. I have not decided what those two posts will focus on yet.

I hope this helps in understanding my new spread-planning method.


I have preordered the 2016 version in blue through the Kickstarter program - its page set-up is slightly different than the 2015 with three new boxes on the left-hand side: People To See, Places To Go, and Not To-Do lists.